2 Timothy 1:12
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed…
It surely is evident that while justification is all that is necessary for safety, an assured knowledge of our justification on our own part must be necessary to give us the comfort and the joy of safety. Further, it is clear that the character of all our subsequent experiences must very largely depend upon such an assured knowledge; for I cannot feel, or speak, or act as a justified man unless I not only am justified, but know that I am justified. Nor can I claim my proper privileges, and enjoy the blessed results of my new relationship with God, unless I know certainly that this relationship exists. For our position is, that, though it be possible that you may be safe in God's sight, and yet not be safe in your own, you cannot lead the life that God intends you to lead unless you know of this your safety. First, you cannot draw near to Him with the filial confidence which should characterise all true Christian experience, and enter into the closest relations of true and trustful love. Next, you cannot learn from the happy results of this first act of faith the great life-lesson of faith. Then again you lose those mighty motives of grateful, joyous love which should be the incentives to a truly spiritual life, and instead of these there is certain to be an element of servile bondage even in your very devotion, and you must forfeit the glorious liberty of the child of God; and last, but not least, there can be no power in your testimony; for how can you induce others to accept a benefit of the personal effects of which you yourself know nothing? If your religion leaves you only in a state of uncertainty, how is it ever likely that you will have weight with others in inducing them to turn their backs upon those "pleasures of sin for a season" which, although they may be fleeting and unsatisfactory, are nevertheless a certainty while they do last. On the other side, let me point out that this knowledge of salvation is the effect and not the condition of justification. It would be absurd to teach that men are justified by knowing that they are justified. Of course they can only know it when it has happened, and to make such knowledge the condition of justification would involve a palpable contradiction. Indeed it would be equivalent to saying you must believe what is false in order to make it true. Look at these words of St. Paul; they sound bold and strong; yet just reflect for a moment. Would anything less than such a confidence as is indicated here have been sufficient to enable him to lead the life that he did? Would he ever have been fit for his life's work if his assurance of his own personal relations with God through Christ had been more dubious, and his standing more precarious? Would anything less than this settled conviction have enabled him fearlessly to face all the odds that were against him, and have borne him on through many a shock of battle towards the victor's crown? But now let us look more closely into this pregnant saying, and endeavour to analyse its meaning. On looking carefully at the words you will find that in stating one thing St. Paul really states three. FIRST, HE TELLS US THAT HE HAS ASSUMED A DISTINCT MORAL ATTITUDE, AN ATTITUDE OF TRUST TOWARDS A PARTICULAR PERSON. NEXT, THAT THE ASSUMPTION AND MAINTENANCE OF THIS ATTITUDE IS WITH HIM A MATTER OF PERSONAL CONSCIOUSNESS; AND NEXT, THAT HE IS ACQUAINTED WITH AND THOROUGHLY SATISFIED WITH THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSON THUS TRUSTED. Let us consider each of these statements severally; and turning to the first, we notice that St. Paul represents his confidence as being reposed not in a doctrine, or a fact, but a person. "I know whom I have believed." Many go wrong here. I have heard some speak as if we were to be justified by believing in the doctrine of justification by faith. Let me say to such what common-sense should have let them to conclude without its being necessary to say it, that we are no more justified by believing in the doctrine of justification by faith than we are carried from London to Edinburgh by believing in the expansive force of steam. Knowledge of the laws of the expansion of vapour may induce me to enter a railway train, and similarly, knowledge of the doctrine of justification may induce me to trust myself to Him who justifies; but I am no more justified by believing this doctrine than I am transported from place to place by believing in the laws of dynamics. Others seem to believe that our faith is to be reposed upon the doctrine of the Atonement, and not a few upon certain particular theories which are supposed to attach to that doctrine. But surely it is clear that our views of doctrine may be never so orthodox and correct, and yet our hearts may not have found rest in Him to whom the doctrine witnesses. Once again, some seem to regard our salvation as dependent upon belief in a fact; but surely it is possible to accept the fact, and yet come no nearer to Him who was the principal actor in that fact. Faith rests on a person, not a doctrine, or a fact; but when we believe in the person, this undoubtedly involves faith in the doctrine (so far as it is necessary for us to understand it) and in the fact. For if I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in Him as God's express provision to meet the case of fallen humanity, and this involves the doctrine. Once again, if I believe in Christ, I believe in Him as having accomplished all that was necessary to meet the case of fallen humanity, and this involves the fact. The doctrine and the fact both meet in Him; but apart from Him neither is of any real spiritual value to me. Nay, I will go so far as to say that my apprehension of the doctrine, and even of the fact, may be very inadequate and incomplete, yet if with all my heart I rest upon the person, my confidence can never be disappointed. Now let us consider this statement that St. Paul makes as to his moral attitude towards Christ. He tells us that he knows whom he has believed. The phrase is especially deserving of attention, and yet, curiously enough, it is generally misquoted. How commonly do we hear it quoted as if the words were, "I know in whom I have believed." I fear that the frequency of the misquotation arises from the fact that men do not clearly discern the point to which the words of the apostle as they stand were specially designed to bear witness. The phrase, as St. Paul wrote it, points to a distinctly personal relation, and the words might, with strict accuracy, be rendered, "I know whom I have trusted." The words, as they are misquoted, may be destitute of this clement of personal relation altogether. If I were to affirm of some distinguished commercial house in this city that I believed in it, that would not necessarily mean that I had left all my money in its hands. If I were to say that I believed in a well-known physician, that would not lead you to conclude that he had cured, or even that I had applied to him to cure, any disease from which I might be suffering. But if I stated that I had trusted that firm or that physician, then you would know that a certain actual personal relation was established between me and the man or the company of men of whom I thus spoke. How many there are who believe in Christ just as we believe in a bank where we have no account, or a physician whose skill we have never proved, and our belief does us as much good in the one case as in the other. But perhaps the true character of trust is, if possible, still more strikingly brought out by the word which St. Paul here employs in the original Greek. It is the word that would be used by any Greek to indicate the sum of money deposited, in trust, in the hands of a commercial agent, or, as we should say, a banker; in fact, the words used here simply mean "my deposit." If you carry about a largo sum of money on your person, or if you keep it in your house, you run a certain risk of losing it. In order to ensure the safety of your property you make it over into the hands of a banker; and if you have perfect confidence in the firm to which you commit it, you no longer have an anxious thought about it. There it is safe in the bank. Even so there had come a time when St. Paul's eyes were opened to find that he was in danger of losing that beside which all worldly wealth is a mere trifle — his own soul; for what indeed "is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Nay, it was not only that his soul was in danger amongst the robbers, it was actually forfeited to the destroyer, and then it was that, in his helpless despair, he made it over into another's hands — that other who had a right to preserve it and keep it alive, because He had ransomed it from the destroyer, and from that time forward there he had left it safe and secure, because He to whom he had entrusted it was trustworthy. Now have you done the same? Have you not only believed in Jesus, but have you trusted Him? Then this must lead us to the second of the three things that we saw St. Paul here affirms. Evidently St. Paul knew, and was perfectly sure, of his own moral attitude towards God; and here he explicitly asserts that his faith was a matter of distinct moral consciousness, for "I know whom I have believed" certainly contains within itself "I know that I have believed." Now turn this over in your mind. Surely it is reasonable enough when we come to think of it; for if we have something weighing on our minds that seems a thing of great importance, surely if we make it over into the hands of another, and leave it with him, we can hardly fail to be conscious of having done so. The question sometimes may be asked — and indeed it often is asked — "How am I to know that I have believed?" I confess that it is not easy to answer such an inquiry; but there are a good many similar questions which it would be equally hard to answer if people ever asked them, which, however, as a matter of fact, they never do. If I were to ask you to-night, "How do you know that you hear me speaking to you?" the only answer you could return would be — one that may sound very unphilosophical, but for all that one that is perfectly sufficient — "Because I do." If you answer, "Ah! but then that is a matter of sense," I reply, "Yes, but is it otherwise with matters that don't belong to the region of sense-perception at all?" If I were to ask you, "How do you know that you remember, or that you imagine, or that you think, or that you perform any mental process?" your answer must still be, "Because I do." You do not feel either able or desirous to give any further proof of these experiences; it is enough that they are experiences — matters of direct consciousness. But we need not in order to illustrate this point go beyond this question that we are at present considering. You ask, "How may I know that I believe?" This question sounds to you reasonable when you are speaking of Christ as the object of faith. Does it sound equally reasonable when you speak in the same terms of your fellow-man? How do you know, my dear child, that you believe in your own mother? How do you know, you, my brother, who are engaged in commerce, that you believe in your own banker? You can only answer in each case, "Because I do"; but surely that answer is sufficient, and you do not feel seriously exercised about the reality of your confidence, because you have no other proof of it excepting an appeal to your own personal consciousness. Let us now notice, further, that he knew well, and was perfectly satisfied with, the character of the person whom he did believe. Herein lay the secret of his calm, the full assurance of his faith. You may have your money invested in a concern which, on the whole, you regard as a safe and satis factory one, yet when panics are prevailing in the city, and well-known houses are failing, you may be conscious of some little anxiety, some passing misgiving. You have faith in the firm, but perhaps not full assurance of faith. It is otherwise with the money that you have invested in the funds of the nation; that must be safe as long as Great Britain holds her place amongst the nations of the world. Clearly our sense of comfort in trusting, our full assurance of confidence lies in our knowledge of, and is developed by, our contemplation of the object upon which our trust is reposed — if indeed that object be worthy of it — and feelings of peace and calm will necessarily flow from this.
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
WEB: For this cause I also suffer these things. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him against that day.